/FICTOGRAPHY/ def. — The intersection of photography (submitted by readers) and fiction (written by me!).
This week’s selected photograph comes from a current student of mine Nick Mamakos. Nick is a Business Communication major who hails from New York. He agreed to share some photographs with me as he’s taken photography at Stevenson, and I thought this photo was lovely. Nick also happens to be a good writer, and I’ll be looking to see what he does down the road after May graduation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with writing…
This week’s piece of flash fiction is 504 words.
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Je m’appelle Michelle.
Agréable de vous recontrer.
Je suis si heureux d’être ici.
My name is Michelle.
It’s lovely to meet you.
I’m so happy to be here.
She was standing at the front door as the sun was rising in the wee hours of the morning, her bags right next to her as she stood and looked out the window reciting some easy phrases to help break the ice. She didn’t know how long she’d be gone and she didn’t know when she would return. The coffee in her hand was growing colder, as she was having difficulty processing what had just happened to her only a couple of days ago, when life was simple and uncomplicated.
She had been in the kitchen making breakfast when her phone rang, louder than usual. There was a slight hesitation as to whether or not she should pick it up, and then decided to answer.
“Bonjour,” the voice at the other end of the line said. “ Mon nom est François. Je cherche Michelle Perault. Est-ce Michelle?”
“Yes,” she said. “But I don’t speak French.”
He had a gravelly voice, one that was easily distinguishable, though she had never heard it before.
“Un moment,” he said, trying to find his English words. They came out very broken.
“I am Francois Perault,” he said. It was the same last name as her own, and she wondered for a brief second, if…
“I am your grand-père.”
She hesitated? “You are my grandfather?”
“Oui. I am telephoning to let you know that your père is ill…” the words trailed off, and in that split second, Michelle realized her greatest fears and dreams: she had a father she might never get to know—and a grandfather—she never knew existed. How had it come to this when all she was doing was making French toast with strawberries in the kitchen on a Saturday morning?
Her mother had disappeared two years ago, drowning herself in alcohol and drugs and running away with a man who was half her age and even more stoned than she had become. She never wanted children, as Michelle was made aware of over and over, as she resented the very idea of having to care for a child, though she did it quite badly. Michelle, now twenty-four and on her own, was left managing a life without parents.
What was there to keep her here in the United States? She had spoken to the grandfather as much as she could, their language barrier getting in the way. She wrote down names and telephone numbers while jotting down street names like Rue de la Harpe and Boulevard St-Michel. An hour afterwards, she had her flight booked.
She could see the taxi’s lights come around the corner and appear near the traffic light. She rolled the large piece of luggage out the front door and locked it behind her, toting a carry-on bag over her shoulder. She would be meeting family she never knew existed.
Cela vaêtretre une aventure, she thought. [This was going to be an adventure.]